Prayers For Jason

Please pray for Jason, Diane’s son. He’s in ICU in an Austin Hospital. Full details will be learned this morning. Right now…very difficult scenario. We ask for you to pray for Jason Herman. He’s 38.

No less, for Diane.

May God be a Healing Presence, Amen.

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Boredom’s Not Close At All

December has started. Some notes on the day. Somehow blending affirmation and surprises.

My heart is filled with joy. Diane and I, not living in Oregon or Washington, wanted to bring the Northwest to our Leander, Texas home this Advent and Christmas. We succeeded. Sitting now by our French Doors to the fireplace in the courtyard is our Christmas Tree. Not any Christmas tree. It’s a Noble Fir. Oh, my, what incredible luck. We found one…perfect for us…at Home Depot. Yeah! Not sure our kids, Faith, Caleb and Copper can figure it out. But, hey, they don’t look interested enough to chew. So far, so good. We’ll have our grandsons help with the ornaments. Yes! Then. Looking at the Noble Fir, not misnamed in my lifetime, I thought about Christmas in Portland, as mother and father and my sister, Marilyn opened presents, the Noble Fir looking over us. Maybe even slapping its branches for the special time. Please don’t tell me they didn’t!

A confession. I’m not a fan of Costco. Did I spell that right? Thought it was for bulk purchases. I’m wrong. We decided to check it out. What a mistake I made. Not for families large. For values great. We now have our Costco cards. Change is with us. I’m pleased for this step. Really pleased.

About a month ago I was asked to visit the last charter member of the church I’m now serving as preacher and pastoral care guy. It was to Corinne Ingram Parker, 98 years old. I was advised her best time was late morning. So, 10:30 I arrived. Honestly, I cannot remember a visit with someone who’s 21 years older than I but connected as if I were 21 years older than she. No details, other than a joy to visit, to answer questions, “Yes, I can dance.” And “yes I like bridge.” When I left she asked for a prayer. She stood up, with help. I prayed as well as I could. She squeezed my hand, “Pastor, please bless me.” I put my hand on her forehead for a benediction. “I’m ready,” she whispered and winked, her self-declaration. She died a few days ago; we had her funeral celebration Thursday. It was a wonderful affirmation, of a lady who was gracious and sweet and stern. When Corinne asked something, in her way, it was never a question. You did it! Such a joy to meet her. As I told the hundreds gathered yesterday, “I bet. I bet no one has known Corinne shorter than I. But, my 40 minutes made it clear…such a gracious and vibrant lady. In fact, I asked if I could give her ‘Vibrancy’ as an additional middle name? She didn’t decline.”

Two more dynamics. I had not thought of beginning a new novel since we returned to Austin in April of 2015. Then, the trigger got pulled. I read the recent novel by Harlan Coben. How exciting. It grabbed me. Sat down. No clear content or direction. The first paragraph, then it flowed. Am really pumped about the writing a new novel now…it’s called “Truth Uncovered.” Triggered in part by the recent #METOO, and some experiences with other clergy, some of which…well, it’s fiction with truth stretched, at least for the most part. My buddy, Tricia Gleason, is again trying to decide which hat, fishing guide, detective or pastor. She wears all three…until… But, no, I’ll stop with that. Am now more than half-way. Know who’s responsible for the two homicides and think I know where the two women who disappeared are. And, as for Tricia. Oh my, she’s found romance. Well, it’s more than that, maybe even R rated. Will see how all this develops.

Then, last but probably first. In a few days I’m headed to Seattle, then to Forks. Time to do some casting, some bobber watching, and when it dips, sometimes even plunges, set the hook and watch the river explode and see the winter steelhead do its best ballet moves above the river.

Yep, am excited. Can you tell? And. Very grateful living a life not even close to boredom.

No less, send only blessings as we light our first Advent Candle tomorrow and know the light shines in the darkness and breaks it into a million pieces. And that, friends, is so much more than preacher-speak.

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Phamaly Needs Postscripting

This is a case when the Postscript is more important than the book.

Sandy is one of my dearest clergy colleagues. We met in Breckenridge, Colorado when Sandy was the senior pastor of their Methodist Church. Two of my fishing buddies, the Rabbi Guide and Bryan Austill participated in worship. Bryan a pastor and clinical psychologist for the community and Rabbi Guide [Matthew Krane] singing and playing the guitar [referenced in yesterday’s blog—using two hands to play the guitar is he.]

Last night Sandy sent me some information about this theatre group, the Phamaly. Here’s her sharing…so helpful. I went to the web page and clicked, as Sandy suggests, on “About” and oh my, how inspirational.

Thanks to those who never consider a handicap a handicap or a disability that removes life’s options. It’s simply reality looking for new expressions. Yes!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you…


From Sandy:

I suggest a site –
Go the link ‘About.’

There are probably 50-60 people in this acting company. You cannot be a member unless you have a disability. I saw my first production, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ when I moved to Denver from Breckenridge in 2005. Since then, I have never missed a performance.
Phamaly is too much to try to describe. Let’s just say that when you’ve experienced one of their productions, something in you changes. And it lasts.

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I Saw My Sister

So many ways to start—

One of my dearest friends plays a guitar—maybe even a banjo. But he uses both hands. Today I just saw a one-handed guitar player.

I’ve not “worked therapeutically” with brain damaged people, although they’ve been in church families. Seeing a brain-damaged young man dancing…took my breath. And then. To see his caregiver, decked out in exaggerated make-up, a crazy wig…love it!

Then, what blew me away. I saw my sister. At the end of this link, there’s a lady, smiling and gesturing with an open hand. My God! It was Marilyn! Yes. I know Marilyn has died and I know the grammar of life she knew and is experiencing is that life, our physical breathing life doesn’t end with a period. It ends with a comma. But in a flash, at least in my eyes and heart, THERE was Marilyn Fran Miller Grey.

To think of Marilyn puts me in touch with the early mother used to say it wasn’t ever Thankstaking, it was Thanksliving…at Uncle Peter and Aunt Pauline’s house. Their four and our four. No one solved the world’s problem, but it took 3 years for me to find out why Uncle Peter served me 7-up and why it was an amber color. [Think you can figure it out.]

Two days for “THE THANKSGIVING DAY” to arrive and then a couple of days before the last Sunday of November. Time to see about “Moving the Water Table,” but even more, far deeper and more inspiring to me, to be with people in Lexington…overwhelms me how they care for a City Slicker.

Now. This link. Brings me joy. Brings me that no matter the limp or halt or reality. We—each of us—need to make a decision…what will govern us…what will hold us back…what will keep the water table from moving or what will always motivate us…fear…or love.

Even to ask for yourself…not a real decision…because hopefully you and I make the SAME decision every day, no matter the why or where or when…it is always love.

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Time For Un-toning

It’s Friday morning, time to focus upon worship for Sunday. Want to preach the most poignant and inspiring story of my ministry. The sermon title is “Christmas Carol.” Yes, Thanksgiving is next week, but the sermon will be timely.

But I cannot get to worship marinating…because I am adrift in tears.

No, it’s not raging tears…although I’m so tired of the tone in our country now…I mean, really…if we cannot blame someone life pales. That’s the tone. If we have to tell the truth, we mute. That’s the tone. If we have to tell others we’re the best ever. That the tone. That pushes and jabs and, yes, clobbers me. Not, though, the prompter of my tears.

It’s a sentence…from a lovely British girl, when interviewed by one of the judges on the Britain’s Got Talent, asked the girl, speaking for about 15 other 12-17-year-olds who are about to sing, “Do you think you’ll win?” She responded, “We’ll do our best.”

That’s so refreshing. I don’t hear it today. I don’t. Wish I did. Wish the ego didn’t dwarf the heart.

I then was given this gift from Diane…she’s my primary researcher for the deeper spiritual truths. This stuck. Big-time. For, “Do our Best,” was the motivation. It wasn’t winning. It wasn’t making more. It wasn’t the suppression of other talent to follow them. It was in their hearts and voices.

I can hardly wait until Sunday…for “Christmas Carol” will share what I consider the essence…something missing in a groping, blaming, condescending tone in our country.

How about a deal? How about you and I commit to un-toning? How about it.

May your un-toning take you into this day.

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How Big Is Your Oikos?

There’s one single dynamic in this link…a link about advice people followed for a successful life. It’s not about how they live; it’s not about theories of getting more; it’s about each of them is a top-person in their company. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing.

However, which is a cousin to but. I don’t consider success to be revealed in a checkbook balance. I don’t. That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend reading the responses in this link. Better than good philosophies, they really are. Not one of these people only lived up to their minimum and no one of them can be described as “less than meets the eye.” If. If success is based upon dollar value and not person value.

One major point. In considering the people I’ve known in my pastorates, there is one characteristic the wealthiest have or have had. I won’t name names. Two of them are deceased; God rest their souls. And one is alive; he knows how I affirm him. The single characteristic is their generosity. They know no hearse has a luggage rack. They know to have more is not to be more, in terms of character and living on a broken earth—broken by lack of integrity and more than abundance of ego.

One of these friends once said, “I love to make money.” He never stopped with that, continuing, “But my greatest love is giving it away to help others.”

My doctoral professor, Douglas Meeks, gave us a word that stuck, “Oikos.” He says, “The size of your Oikos defines the quality of your character.” Oikos is community, those for whom you have the greatest value. “The smaller the Oikos the smaller the person, in terms of people value.”

Dr. Meeks put it another way: “You don’t grow until you give.” Generosity is the cornerstone of living well. I learned that from Dr. Meeks; even earlier I learned that from my mother. Goodness, she was retired, still walked a mile, literally, to visit two ladies in a nursing home who never had visitors. THAT’S giving of self.

Do read…but then mirror your own life…what’s the greatest advice you’ve received and how has it been the deeper truth in the manner by which you order your life? There may not be one, but in writing right now, there is a Ten Commandment that has always impacted me. Not the Ten Commandment from Exodus in the Bible. Rather, one of the Ten Commandments of Baseball by Billy Southworth, “If what you’ve done yesterday looks big to you…then you’ve not done much today.”

Hey, I think it’s worked…just sayin’.

Here’s the link:

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Keep Casting…Rain Or Shine

It’s not we’re from the same school. It’s not. But. This morning, for reasons where I’m not really sure stem, I feel very badly when I learned that Richard Sherman, an all-pro defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles Tendon.

Sure, he’s brash and outspoken. Nothing wrong with that. In Texas lingo, though, you could never say he’s all hat and no cattle. Nope. He’s highly skilled, very intelligent and gives more than his all. You also could never say he only lives up to his minimum.

I realize injuries happen. I won’t detail, but twice in my baseball life…once with a torn knee cartilage and the other with a torn nerve casing in my pitching arm [one year apart], each of which dashed my season…the senior season at Stanford and the year before the game before the State Tournament for my semi-professional team in Portland, Oregon…each time I was crushed.

Okay. Accidents happen. Injuries happen. What you want happens. More often, though, they don’t.

Where does this lead? I think it leads to sharing my sadness about Sherman. And how many others are on injured reserve? But also to realize injuries are part of life. Not everyone stops at a red light.

Just remembered…on that, 3 weeks ago [we live at an intersection with 4 stop signs, a neighborhood with lots and lots of kids.] as I was leaving my driveway, a car came from the other direction, went through our stop sign at a high speed. I decided not to look the other way. Rather, I followed the car, it went through a 2nd stop sign and pulled into a driveway.

I stayed in my car, lowered the passenger side window, “Ma’am? Do you live here?” She said, “Yes, I do.” I then shared that she hadn’t stopped at signs asking for that. And asked her to please drive more carefully.

Enough of this side-track. What isn’t a sidetrack is that more important than being injured…no one is exempt…the more critical dynamic is how to we handle it? How do we recover? What happens to our goals, our resolutions?

As I shared with my congregation last Sunday, keep casting, keep fishing and never throw the net away.

I know in my heart Richard Sherman will recover. More important, will we from our own injuries and mishaps? I HOPE SO!!!

As I say that I’m focused on packing my fishing rods and reels and heading to the world of casting in the Northwest. Sure, it’s raining. But, there’s got to be somewhere where fishing and maybe some catching is possible. Don’t want it ever said that I won’t try. Hopefully the same for you!

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